In today’s world of increasing connectivity, there are times when it is both safer and wiser to hold back a little, at least at first. When someone rings your doorbell or knocks on your front door, for example, you may not want to open it up until you know precisely who you’ll find on the other side. That is exactly why a video doorbell might become your new best friend. No matter if you’re just inside on the couch or in another country altogether, it’s reassuring to know that you can see whomever is coming to your house at any given moment simply by checking your smart phone.
- 1 What Are Video Doorbells ?
- 2 How Does A Video Doorbell Work?
- 3 Situations Where A Video Doorbell Would Come In Handy
- 4 Top 8 Things To Look For In A Video Doorbell
- 5 How To Install A Video Doorbell
- 6 Specific Video Doorbells Worth Looking Into
- 6.1 August Doorbell Camera
- 6.2 Ring Video Doorbell Pro
- 6.3 Ring Video Doorbell 2
- 6.4 Skybell HD Video Doorbell
- 6.5 Zmodo Greet Smart Wi-Fi Video Doorbell with Beam
- 6.6 iseeBell Wi-Fi Enabled HD Video Doorbell
- 6.7 Netvue VueBell Wireless Wifi Video Doorbell
- 6.8 Olive & Dove RemoBell WiFi Wireless Video Doorbell
What Are Video Doorbells ?
Video doorbells are, essentially, doorbells with a camera that operates when an object (like someone’s finger) comes near to and/or pushes the doorbell. These are smart devices that work in conjunction with wi-fi and your smart phone to send a video feed to your phone for you to see who’s at your door. Along with the video footage itself, video doorbells also have the capacity to offer some other security and convenience features, such as dual communication, infrared/night vision, and motion detection.
How Does A Video Doorbell Work?
A video doorbell’s operation is probably not going to come as a huge surprise. Essentially, at its most basic level, the video doorbell works like this: There is a camera in the doorbell. When the camera senses movement around the doorbell or the actual ringing of the doorbell, it sends a live video feed to your smart phone. You can see this feed and determine whether or not you want to open the door. In many instances, you will be able to talk to the person at your front door via your phone through your doorbell camera. Sounds pretty convenient, doesn’t it? Not only convenient, but safe.
Situations Where A Video Doorbell Would Come In Handy
While a traditional doorbell might be fine, there are definitely a number of instances where a video doorbell would really increase convenience, improve expectations, and decrease stress. For example, here are some situations in which having a video doorbell installed would really come in handy:
- When you’re expecting a package. You can let the delivery person know to leave the package. And, because you know when it’s delivered and can bring it inside, this helps to keep it from getting stolen.
- When your young children are near the front door when it rings, but you don’t want them opening it until you know who is on the other side.
- When you’re doing something elsewhere in the house, garage, or backyard.
- When you’re in the shower. You could easily hop out if it’s an emergency, of course, but what if it’s just a ring-and-go package delivery?
- When you’re not expecting guests.
- When you are expecting guests.
- When you’re not home and/or out of town. You can check who is at your door for safety purposes and maybe even talk with them.
- When you’re working or making dinner and want to avoid solicitors, you can check to see if the person ringing the doorbell is worth taking the time out of your lengthy To Do list to greet at the door.
Top 8 Things To Look For In A Video Doorbell
As with all things technological, not all video doorbells are created equal. Also with all things technological, however, they don’t necessarily have to be created equal. Different elements and features of a wireless video doorbell will be higher and lower priorities to some people, depending on their circumstances and situation. The following is a list of the traditionally most-important things to look for in a video doorbell:
- Motion Sensing – Some video doorbell models come equipped with integrated motion sensing. This allows them to begin video recording and to alert you about someone’s approach to your front door. This feature is a proactive one; the visitor doesn’t even need to ring the doorbell for you to already be notified of his/her arrival.
- Video Quality – Fuzzy or unclear video footage is better than nothing, probably, but it’s not ideal when you’re trying to tell just who, precisely, is at your doorstep. Higher quality video doorbell cameras will have 1080p high-definition video resolution, and this is recommended for the average person wanting to install a video doorbell.
- Width of Viewing Angle – Video doorbells come in varied widths of viewing angles. While narrow (smaller) viewing angles might be less expensive, they are much less effective in your ability to see everything on your doorstep. A good rule of thumb, for the majority of people and porches, is to find a video doorbell with a viewing angle in the 150- to 180-degree range.
- Speaker / Microphone – Smart doorbells, which video doorbells are, involve an app on your mobile phone that lets you talk with whoever is outside your front door. This is possible if, on the doorbell itself, both a speaker and microphone have been integrated into the design. Sound quality makes or breaks this two-day communication; the speaker should be sufficiently loud, and the microphone should be sufficiently sensitive for you to be able to hear and speak with each other clearly and comfortably.
- Night Vision / Low-Light Vision – Depending on your front porch setup, you may need to carefully consider the video doorbell’s night vision capability. If you have motion sensing lights near your front door, then this might be less of a priority. Even so, a video doorbell that can transfer clear footage even in darker lighting is preferable to one whose night-time footage you can’t quite decipher.
- Compatibility with Smart Home – If you’re looking into installing a video doorbell, chances are high that you’re either looking into or already have other smart home devices and/or systems. Some video doorbells can be connected to other smart home systems (e.g., Samsung SmartThings, Wink), which makes it possible for you to correlate the turning on of exterior lights with the ringing of the doorbell (for example).
- Compatibility with Accessories – For those people who are interested in additional front porch security accessories and smart devices (e.g., smart door locks, home security cameras, etc.), you will likely want to find a video doorbell that is compatible with those other accessories to simplify your home security system.
- Storage Fees – Video doorbells are designed to show you a live video feed of whoever, or whatever, is at your door. This footage should be saved to be accessed later, should the need or desire arise. Some video doorbells have built-in storage, whereas others charge a subscription fee to store that footage. This is something to consider in the purchase of your video doorbell.
How To Install A Video Doorbell
Installation specifics may vary slightly based upon which video doorbell model you’ve got, but the basics are relatively unchanged across the board. Most video doorbells are installed by replacing the doorbell button near your front door. The video doorbell will connect into the wiring of the home. Your video doorbell my have built-in battery power to supplement its operation capacity, or it may be exclusively battery-powered.
Once the video doorbell is installed, you will be able to connect it (hopefully easily) to your home’s wi-fi network. This wireless connection is where the video doorbell magic happens – through the app, you will be able to change whatever settings you need, receive real-time and other notifications, and access and view the video footage. Most video doorbell apps today work on both iOS and android devices.
Note: You should be aware that many video doorbells only work with mechanical doorbells with chimes, not digital doorbells that use a speaker. In addition, the wi-fi reception in many video doorbells can be weak, so you may need to take measures to increase wi-fi capacity near your front door. This might include situating your router closer to the door, or installing a wi-fi extender nearby.
Specific Video Doorbells Worth Looking Into
The following are the top-rated and most popular video doorbells on the market today. We will look at each specific video doorbell and its features, to help you determine which doorbell might be best for you right now. Note: This article contains affiliate links and, at no additional cost to you, will provide compensation to this website’s operators when you click through and make a purchase. STEFAN: Do we have a disclosure like this somewhere else on the website? If not, we should include something similar with all product comparison/affiliate link articles; I didn’t realize they were affiliate links before.
The August Doorbell Camera is a video doorbell that connects to your existing doorbell wires. The camera itself has a small but square shape (2.9”x2.9”x0.9”), which is sleek and distinct but that might require special care in installing because it’s not the traditional rectangle. The August Cam works in low light, allowing you to view clear footage in a 1280×960 resolution and a 120-degree viewing field. In addition to seeing them, you will also be able to speak with visitors at your front door through your smart phone, even when you’re not at home. Motion detection sensors, when triggered, will send instant alerts to your phone when activity occurs at your doorstep.
After you subscribe to August’s video-recording service (about $5/month), you will be able to record and then access video with the August Doorbell Cam; you can replay video if you happen to miss visitors during the live feed with this optional cloud recording service. This camera connects to wi-fi and is compatible with the company’s other smart home devices, such as the smart door lock, as well as other smart home systems. The August Cam also works with Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKIt, making it easy to lock your door with a simple voice command. In other words, the August Cam is particularly useful in a smart home with other smart devices.
You will be able to view, listen to, and talk to anyone at your door with the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. The Doorbell Pro is a second-generation video doorbell that improves upon the original. Even with its ultra-slim design (4.5”x2”x1”), it’s still big on quality resolution (1080p HD) and field of view (160 degrees). Even more, the wi-fi connectivity is expanded with this model, supporting both2.4 GHz and 5GHz bands, which translates into better performance for you. You will also experience improved performance when you position your router and/or wi-fi extender near the front door. Advanced motion detection allows you to designate priority monitoring zones, and when someone or something enters those zones, the video doorbell camera will send you video and alerts.
Live video feeds come through your smart phone, so you can check in on your front porch anytime and watch footage on-demand. This Doorbell Pro is designed to be connected to your existing doorbell’s wiring, so you might need to call in an electrician for the installation, and you’ll need to place the video doorbell in the same location that your doorbell sits now.
Infrared vision helps you be able to access clear footage during the day or night. The Doorbell Pro comes with four different faceplates, which you can use interchangeably to swap out colors without having to buy or reinstall another doorbell. Your video footage will be stored in the cloud, with different storage options beginning at $3/month per camera to store up to 60 days. What’s more, there is a lifetime purchase protection so that if your Doorbell Pro is ever stolen, Ring will replace it at no additional cost to you. The Doorbell Pro is compatible with Amazon Alexa.
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is a generation two video doorbell that is truly an improvement of the original in several areas. As a wireless video doorbell with excellent video quality, it’s not only appealing for homeowners but also for renters. At 1080p HD resolution (increased from 720p in the original Video Doorbell) and a 160-degree viewing angle, you will not only be able to see everything on your front porch, but you’ll be able to see your visitor’s features clearly. The Ring Video Doorbell has improved night vision capability over the original as well. Adjustable motion detection and two-way audio complete the package nicely so that you can get instant alerts about and then see, hear, and speak to anyone (or anything) at your front door from your iOS or android smart phone, tablet, or computer.
Available currently in silver or bronze-black (both water-resistant), the Ring Video Doorbell 2 itself is a nice size, about 5”x2.5”x1”, and is weather-resistant for a longr lifespan. The Doorbell 2 is powered by battery (no worries during power outages), with an easily removable battery pack for recharging, or you can connect it to the home’s doorbell wiring for continuous power. The battery pack is estimated to last six months to a year before needing to be recharged, depending upon usage. The Doorbell 2 is also compatible with various smart locks and smart hubs, which further increases smart home streamlining. Ring offers storage options for your video footage, beginning at $3/month for video stored in the cloud up to 60 days.
The round, stylishly modern, and easy-to-install Skybell HD Video Doorbell provides high-resolution (1080p) video with up to 5x zoom-in and an extra-wide-angle lens (180-degree field of view) to really give you a bang for your video feed buck. Night vision is another feature that improves the visual connection you will have with whomever is at your door, as you can see them in full-color HD video. One of the benefits of the Skybell HD Video Doorbell, in comparison to other video doorbells on the market today, is that it doesn’t require a paid monthly or annual video storage subscription, which means that your cost is your final cost. Your video footage is stored for free in the cloud for seven days, with the option for you to save footage to your phone if you want or need.
The Skybell HD has a small backup battery but relies most heavily on being hardwired into your existing doorbell’s electrical. This wireless video doorbell is motion-activated, which means that you will receive alerts to your smart phone when anything is close enough to the doorbell even if it doesn’t actually ring the doorbell, which is a nice security addition. Its weatherproof design is particularly thoughtful, with operating capacity in extreme temperatures (-40F to 149F), a specialized rust-prevention coating on the camera, and a plastic exterior to resist water and help with the connection to wi-fi. With a choice of bronze or silver finishes, you can coordinate the Skybell HD with your existing home hardware. Skybell HD connects with several smart home devices such as Alexa, Nest, Honeywell, and others.
The Zmodo Greet Smart doorbell is a budget-friendly wireless video doorbell that stands out because of its affordability without sacrificing the sought-after features of higher priced models. Zmodo provides two-way communication between your visitor at the door and yourself with your smart phone app – you can see, listen to, and speak with whoever is at your door. Zmodo Greet also offers smart motion detection that, when triggered by motion, will send a real-time alert your smart phone and begin recording video. (These short clips are stored for free in the cloud and are accessible for 36 hours.) What’s more, if you are unable to answer the door, you can pre-program a voice message for Zmodo to play for your visitor.
The Zmodo Greet Smart is installed with your existing doorbell’s wiring, and then adds the Zmodo Beam (included in this package) to serve as a smart hub of sorts and as dual wi-fi extender. The Zmodo Greet camera is 720p resolution and will store 8GB of video footage internally with an option for subscription-based cloud backup service. You also have access to live feed anytime you want it via your smart phone or online. Infrared night vision allows you flexibility and security in identifying who is at your door whether during the day or at night, as the camera can switch to black and white night vision view in the dark based upon your customized sensitivity adjustments.
The iseeBell Wi-Fi Enabled HD Video Doorbell provides wi-fi connection (2.4GHz) in a simple installation. This video doorbell design is powerful and compact, at just 3.3”x2.9”x0.9”, and it is also budget-compatible. Using a wi-fi connection, your iseeBell doorbell will sync with the companion app on either an iOS or android phone. From this app, you will be able to view live video streaming from your front door and/or speak with visitors at your door. You will also receive alerts and snapshot photos of any activity (suspicious or otherwise) near your front door as picked up by the video doorbell’s motion sensing.
This kit includes not just the weatherproof doorbell, but also an indoor Nightlight Chime, as well as all the tools and wires you’ll need for installation. The iseeBell doorbell uses 720p high-definition resolution to provide clear video imaging of a super wide angle (185-degrees) field of vision. Night vision mode is enabled automatically in low-light and dark conditions, which allows clear footage even during the dark hours. You can access all video footage from the cloud via your smart phone or PC browser.
Measuring only 3”x3”x1”, the Netvue VueBell Wireless Wifi Video Doorbell is one of the smallest video doorbells you can buy at this point. But that doesn’t mean the VueBell skimps on performance. This compact video doorbell connects directly to your home’s existing wiring and provides live streaming of 720p resolution video to your smart phone. Not only that, but the field of view for such a tiny smart device is stunning, with a 185-degree horizontal and 120-degree vertical camera field of view (for a total of 220 degrees’ diagonal viewing field). The video doorbell’s infrared night vision works for up to 10 meters in very low to no light.
The VueBell connects to your home’s 2.4GHz wi-fi network (not 5GHz) and, in turn, supplies either on-demand or motion-triggered video footage and notifications to your iOS or android smart phone. You can customize the area of detection sensitivity as well as the time so as to minimize false notifications. With a noise cancellation chip built-in, you can also experience clear two-way communication with the person(s) on your doorstep through VueBell and your correlating app. A huge customer service feature of the VueBell is a direct line to a customer service representative contained in the app itself, so you always have someone to call if you have questions, concerns, or need to troubleshoot your video doorbell. There are multiple cloud storage options available, starting at $2/month after a free 30-day trial.
The RemoBell WiFi Wireless Video Doorbell is a fairly basic battery-powered wi-fi camera with a viewing field of 120 degrees at 720p resolution. You can talk with and listen to the person(s) at your door via your smart phone app through the built-in speaker and mic features. The RemoBell WiFi also has an integrated motion sensor that uses passive infrared (PIR) sensing to detect radiant heat off of objects, meaning that the visitor(s) doesn’t even need to press the doorbell itself before the video doorbell begins streaming footage and you receive notification on your smart phone. Infrared night vision means that you’ll get practically as clear a picture at night as you will during the day. You will also be able to connect up to five devices on one account, which helps to streamline your home’s smart devices.
Because the RemoBell WiFi is battery-powered (six AA batteries), you have plenty of options for positioning and placement as well as a touted easy installation and setup process. And you don’t need to worry about connecting the video doorbell into your existing doorbell’s electrical. You will receive low-battery notifications so that you have plenty of opportunity to keep your video doorbell’s power fresh and secure. And the RemoBell WiFi is water- and weather-resistant. There is an optional storage plan for storing your video footage in the cloud ($3/month), and you will be able to save and/or access your videos for up to 30 days.
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